Only one of the seven midsize cars tested achieved a good rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) updated side crash test.
The vehicles tested were the 2022 model year:
- Subaru Abroad;
- Hyundai sonata;
- Volkswagen Jetta;
- Honda Accord;
- Toyota Camry;
- Nissan Altima; and
- Chevy Malibu.
The Outback was the only medium-sized vehicle with a good rating. With slightly higher levels of intrusion into the passenger compartment, the Sonata and Jetta rated themselves acceptable.
Overall, this first batch of mid-sized cars didn’t perform as well as the first batches of small and medium size SUVs previously evaluated — one reason may be their lower ride height, states an IIHS press release.
“With vehicles sitting lower to the ground, the conspicuous barrier comes higher on the door panel,” said IIHS President David Harkey in the release. “That may put sedans and wagons at a disadvantage in this evaluation, but reflects what happens in a real crash when these vehicles are hit by a higher-traveling pickup truck or SUV.”
Driver and rear passenger head protection airbags, which contribute to a low risk of head and neck injury to occupants in both seats, performed well in the Outback, Sonata and Jetta. However, according to IIHS results, injury measures were slightly increased for the driver’s pelvis and rear passenger torso in the Jetta and the rear passenger’s pelvis in the Sonata.
The Accord earned an overall marginal rating and the Malibu, Altima and Camry earned poor ratings.
There was moderate B-pillar intrusion into the Accord’s passenger compartment and the driver’s pelvic injury measures were slightly increased. The driver’s head also moved past the side curtain airbag and hit the windowsill during the crash.
The Altima and Malibu showed significant intrusion into the passenger compartment, but the Camry’s safety cage held up well, according to IIHS. Injury measurements indicated a high risk of trunk and pelvic injury for the driver in the Altima, a moderate risk of trunk and pelvic injury for the driver, and a high risk of pelvic injury for the rear passenger in the Camry. The Malibu driver would be at high risk of head or neck injuries. In all three vehicles, the heads of the driver’s and/or rear passenger’s dummies slipped under the side curtain airbags and hit the windowsill.
IIHS developed the updated side crash test after Research showed that many of the true side-impact collisions that still account for nearly a quarter of passenger car occupant fatalities are more serious than the original evaluation. The institute previously said that protecting vehicle occupants in side-impact collisions is a challenge because vehicle sides have “relatively little room to absorb energy and shield occupants, unlike the front and rear, which have significant crumple zones.” to have.”
The new test was first used in 2021. The original test had been in operation since 2003. The updated side crash test uses a heavier barrier traveling at a higher speed to simulate the crashing vehicle. The new barrier weighs 4,200 pounds, close to the weight of today’s midsize SUVs, hitting the test vehicle at 37 mph compared to a 3,300-pound barrier traveling at 50 mph in the original test.
“We expect automakers to respond to our updated side tests, providing better occupant protection and producing safer vehicles for consumers,” Harkey said in a video overview of the latest test results.
For now, the updated test is not included in the IIHS award criteria. However, from 2023, a good or acceptable rating is required for the lower “Top Safety Pick” category and a good rating for the higher “Top Safety Pick+” category.
The Outback, Sonata, Jetta, Accord, Camry, Altima and Malibu all received good ratings in the original side test.
In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash safety program for side-impact collisions, the 2022 Outback scored five stars — the highest and safest possible rating — for both the driver and rear passenger.
NHTSA’s side impact scenario is that the test vehicle is struck on the driver’s side in the middle of a four-way intersection when another vehicle fails to yield at the stop sign. The test vehicle is hit by a 3015-pound moving barrier traveling at 38.5 mph. The test evaluates injuries to the head, chest, abdomen, and pelvis.
NHTSA gave the Sonata, Jetta, Accord and Camry five stars overall and five stars each for driver and rear passenger injuries. The Malibu received a total of four starts, four stars for the driver and three stars for the rear passenger. The Altima received a total of five stars, four for the driver and five for the rear passenger.
Featured Image: IIHS President David Harkey gives an overview of how seven midsize vehicles streamlined in the institute’s latest round of side-impact testing. (Credit: IIHS YouTube Video Screenshot)
A crash test dummy is shown in a 2022 Subaru Outback during a side crash test. (Credit: IIHS YouTube Video Screenshot)